It may not necessarily be reflected in the win column, but the Highland High School girls golf team is showing gradual improvement.
Monday was a prime example, as the Lady Bulldogs shot a 206 and lost to a very good visiting team in O’Fallon (173) by 33 shots at Highland Country Club. But it was another positive step for Highland, because the girls continue to lower its team score each and every match on the course.
“This season is really about taking small steps and improving each day,” said Highland veteran coach Gina Hirsch. “We were able as a team to drop two stokes off of our team score from our last match and we were only six strokes away from my goal of a score of 200. This year is not about wins and losses, but rather about small goals that we set for each match that we try and accomplish. The kids are having fun and leaning a lot. Overall we are getting better with each practice.”
O’Fallon’s Brooke Boatman was the match medalist after firing a round of 40. Emily Marrs shot a impressive round of 42 for the Panthers, who also received rounds of 45 and 46, respectively, from Alyssa McMinn and Savannah Schuhardt.
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Sophomore Rece Portell topped Highland with a personal-best match round of 43, which is also the team’s season-low score.
“Rece has been spending a lot of extra time after practice working with coach Brendan Bargetzi to improve her came and it is starting to really pay off,” Hirsch said. “Rece had two birdies on Holes 6 and 8. Six is not really a birdie hole for most kids so that one is pretty special. Rece has been driving the ball well so I wasn’t surprised that her drive was pretty close to the green on 8. I am very proud of her work ethic and I think it is going to pay off as the season progresses.”
Senior left-hander Allison Young was next on the scoring pylon for the Lady Bulldogs with a 47.
“Allison hit the ball a lot better tonight,” Hirsch said. “She had a couple bad putts tonight but her iron play was a lot better. She just needs to stand a little taller and I think that she will be able to score in the lower 40s. Allison is such a positive kid, it is fun to watch her on the golf course.”
Rounding out the scoring for Highland were sophomore Kayla Davis with a 57 and first-year senior lefty Caitlin Lammers with a 59.
“Kayla had a much better round tonight. She just needs to continuing working on following through and keeping her head down,” Hirsch said. “Breanna (Frahm) and Caitlin are really coming along well. Both of them are just natural athletes and by the end of the season, I think they are going to be right in the thick of things.”
On Wednesday of last week, the Lady Bulldogs traveled to Oak Brook Country Club and finished third out of four teams in a quadrangle match.
Edwardsville won the quad with stellar team score of 165. Triad finished a distant second with a 185. Highland was another 23 strokes behind Triad in third with a 208 and Alton brought up the rear with a 220.
“We were only eight strokes away from my goal of a score of 200,” said Highland veteran coach Gina Hirsch. “We have had such a strong tradition in golf and this year is what I call a growing year. Alton and I are in the same boat and we actually talked about how humbling it is to have a year like this one. We are doing a lot of teaching both swings and rules. But the thing that we both said is that we have great kids to work with.”
Edwardsville’s Addy Zeller was the match medalist after firing a great round of 3-over-par 39. Also for the Tigers, Samantha Doak and Paige Hamel both turned in matching rounds of 5-over 41 and Kayla Weinacht added a 44.
Sydney Snyder paced Triad with a 43 while Alton was led by Morgna Bemis’ 48.
Highland was led by sophomore Rece Portell’s good round of 8-over 44, but no other Lady Bulldog could muster a score under 50.
“Rece played very well today,” Hirsch said. “She has been hitting the ball pretty well, and if we can get her chipping to be consistent, she may be battling for the number one position. Rece had great drives and had a couple really great putts.”
Completing the team score for Highland were Young with a 54 and Davis and Lammers, who shot identical rounds of 55.
Lammers joined the team on Monday of last week and she stepped right in and contributed to the team’s score in her first ever competition.
“She has a beautiful swing for just starting,” Hirsch said. “Lefties always seem to swing so naturally. With some work, Caitlin hits such a long drive that we just need to work on her second shots. She was doing a lot of punching out which cost her several shots.”